High life

Belgrade belle

I never thought I’d see it, a beauty winning a major title, at least not since the Williams sisters and the ghastly Maria Sharapova came on the scene. But there she was last weekend, an olive-skinned enchantress winning the French Open and charming everyone with her femininity and grace. If only Ana Ivanovic did not

Low life

Knock, knock

Three or four times a week I walk down the road and rap twice with the heavy knocker on Margery’s home-made front door. Always twice, with the same force and tempo, so that she and the dog know that it’s me. And the dog, Joe, an old fat collie, always replies with joyful, musical barking

Slow life

Hooked on Beethoven

Stephen Lipson, a record producer, lives in the village up the road. Well, he was very pleased with himself, glowing with satisfaction like someone who’d just finished a particularly abstruse crossword. Back in the parish after a couple of weeks in Los Angeles, where he’d been making the new American Idol record. He didn’t even

More from life

Slowly but surely

You don’t have to be a brilliant rider to make it as a trainer. As jump jockeys, Paul Nicholls and Philip Hobbs never rose above the middle ranks. Both have since proved to be exceptional at training jumpers. In ten years as a jump jockey Tom Dascombe rode only 96 winners, but as a trainer

Status Anxiety | 14 June 2008

Did my wife really mean it when she said I didn’t have to be present at the birth? By the time you read this, I will be the proud father of another baby. That is the plan, anyway. My wife has had enough of being pregnant and has booked herself into hospital to be induced.

Dear Mary

Dear Mary | 14 June 2008

Q. I have started receiving regular emails from a very old friend inviting me to avail myself of the services of the wealth management company in which he is a partner. Since I am penniless, and from the uncharacteristically humour-free tenor of these letters, I can tell that I was never meant to be a

Mind your language

Mind your language | 14 June 2008

Does it matter when we lose battles as language changes? In Oxford the other day, I saw another piece of evidence that in the High Street has changed to on the High Street. A newsagent’s near Teddy Hall has for some time been called Honey’s of the High. It is now usually called Honey’s on

The Wiki Man

The Wiki Man | 14 June 2008

A 1980s cartoon from Private Eye shows a teenage boy, dressed in animal skins, staring intently into the dancing flames of a small fire. Behind him, bearded and leaning on a club, stands his scowling Neanderthal father, horrified: ‘When I was a boy we had to make our own entertainment.’ The great Douglas Adams believed